Friday, February 8, 2008

Thank you, Jesus

We are parked on the street outside of PEDCO, in Santa Fe Springs (map).

We actually had a fairly quiet and undisturbed night at the Flying-J, and, in spite of snow on the surrounding hills (an oddity in southern California most years) and 4,000' of elevation, it wasn't even too cold (although cold enough, apparently, for one of our coolant leaks to resurface). We pulled out around 9:30, which put us here at 11:30.

Virgil and I spent a good deal of time sitting in his office, wherein he listened to me lament about possible worn rings, dirt ingestion, and other possible maladies. A quick call to one of his trusted experts over at Detroit Diesel discovered that there was probably no way the ATF intrusion could have worn the rings (and also confirmed that, even if we needed to re-kit the motor, that was still the recommended step at a young 110,000 miles). So we walked back into the shop to grab Jesús.

The last two times we were here, the bulk of the work on our coach was done by two other technicians. But when problems cropped up, Jesús was the guy that came out to look at and listen to the engine. He correctly diagnosed a fuel delivery problem after the first rebuild, something that had us spinning our wheels (or not, as the case may be) for quite some time after everything was put together.

In any case, Jesús felt the crankcase breathers, but did not detect any significant air flow there that would be indicative of blow-by. What he did find was air coming out around one of the airbox covers, the very same one that I had noted in this post a week or so ago as being the possible source of the oil leak. It looks like the guys at Hardy Diesel just crammed the cover back on without scraping off and replacing the gasket. I can only surmise that the problems continued to worsen as bits of the old gasket material continued to come out of the loose cover, making the area for air to escape larger and larger.

So after all my ruminating, it looks as if the entire problem has been this loose cover. With enough air escaping through it, the boost pressure is too low, resulting in black smoke and a loss of power. After he buttoned the airbox back up, we pulled an oil sample for testing, and Louise and I drove it over to the local Caterpillar dealer in Odyssey. After which we also ran around town looking for a place to stay for the weekend. The initial signs are good -- there's less smoke, and power seems normal.

On the place to stay front, we came up empty. We had hoped to settle in at the Downey Elks lodge, which is walking distance to Olive Garden and a number of other restaurants, as well as a mall. Unfortunately, they were full up on account of (really) a shuffleboard tournament. A quick call to the Buena Park Elks revealed that they, too, were full up. The local Wal-Mart is now a Sam's Club and is posted no overnight parking, and so we just gave up and came back here, where we knew on-street parking was available and we would blend in with the other vehicles waiting on service. The whole process was complicated by the fact that Louise is coming down with a pretty bad cold, and she's the official campsite finder while I am driving. Plus, we really needed to just get parked someplace so she could take her sick self to bed.

If she's up to it, we'll do some driving around tomorrow and/or Sunday, as Jesús wants us to puts some miles on while we monitor our oil consumption. We'll be here in the immediate area through Monday, when we will head back into the shop with the results of that exercise. I've also asked them to change the oil and filter -- even though it's only been a couple thousand miles since the last change, I want to make double-sure that we've cleared all the ATF out of the engine, and there was enough debris in the oil system on last inspection that I think an early filter change is cheap insurance. I'll have them cut this filter open, as well, and see if we're still finding metal bits in the oil.

I talked to the tranny guy today also, regarding the intermittent code-12's we've been seeing. He'll re-calibrate our dipstick on Monday, so we can be certain the fluid level is correct. It's possible that we are just a tad low, which might admit a gulp of air when the system is cold and the fluid is at its lowest level. Lastly, I'll have them look at the coolant leak that had us leaving a pint-sized puddle at Flying-J this morning.

As long as we're in the neighborhood, we're going to try to get over to Disneyland on Tuesday (assuming all goes well on Monday), which would put us on the road to Death Valley on Wednesday.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, Jesus has been helping us over here, too. Dianne's foot surgery went well and she is recovering nicely so far.


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